Cecil A. Alexander, FAIA
Social justice, affordable housing
Architect and activist Cecil Alexander, FAIA, was honored with the Whitney Young Award for his lifelong contributions to equality.
After finishing Yale University with a bachelor’s in architecture, Alexander continued his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Putting school on hold to serve as a pilot in World War II, he completed a graduate architecture degree at Harvard University before returning to his native Atlanta.
Alexander’s outspoken advocacy for the elimination of city slums in 1957 led to his appointment as the first chair of Atlanta’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Urban Renewal. In 1964, Alexander partnered with Whitney Young Jr. himself to create Resurgens Atlanta—a group of civic and business leaders dedicated to improving race relations—taking its name from the city’s motto, which means “Atlanta reborn.”
While maintaining an award-winning architecture career, Alexander would continue his fight for civil rights on various governmental and nonprofit committees and councils, including the Atlanta Housing Resources Committee and the state housing committee. Beyond architecture, his redesign of the Georgia flag—for which he greatly reduced the prominence of the Confederate battle flag—flew above the state capital from 2001 to 2003 until officials finally adopted a flag free of Confederate symbols.